Tag Archive: mobile


Gen 5 Pokemon have just started rolling out in Pokemon GO and already three of the new Pokemon have shiny versions ready for players to catch.

More than three-dozen Pokemon originally seen in the Unova region of the game were just added to Pokemon GO if one counts evolutionary chains. If one counts the evolutions for these new shinies, then a total of eight new shiny Pokemon have also been added.

The first of Pokemon GO‘s new shinies is Patrat, a Normal-type Pokemon that evolves into Watchog with 50 candies. Shiny Patrat’s have different color eyes than their normal counterparts and can be found in eggs, commonly in the wild, or in raids.

Next up is Lillipup, another Normal-type, that evolves into Herdier with 25 candy, and then Stoutland with another 100 candy. Shiny Lillipups have slightly different fur coloring than normal, and, like Patrat, can be found in eggs, commonly in the wild, or in raids.

Finally, there is Klink, a Steel-type Pokemon, that evolves into Klang with 25 candy, and Klinklang with 100 more candy. Typically, Klink is silver in color, but the shiny variety has a more golden sheen to it. Klink is also the hardest of the three to find, as it is available in Pokemon GO raids only.

Pokemon GO remains one of the most popular mobile and free-to-play games in the world, and the addition of Generation 5 will only keep players around for even longer. After all, gotta catch ‘em all.

The addition of all these new Pokemon to the game has also added other features, including new moves for battles and raids. Although the three Pokemon mentioned above only require candy to evolve, there are seven Pokemon released with this generation who require the brand new Unova Stone evolutionary item.

The Unova Stone is only available via Research Breakthroughs, which at maximum can only be earned once per week. So trainers out there will need to keep completing tasks as well while hunting for all the new Pokemon out there.

Pokemon GO is available now for mobile devices.

I’m sure like many gamers of my generation, stomping on Goombas and Koopa Troopas with Mario was the first video game experience we had. Over 30 years later, Mario’s moves and looks may have been consistently upgraded, but the simple joy of jumping on an enemy’s head and running for the flagpole goal remains ever satisfying no matter the system. So, with Mario appearing over on a mobile platform for the first time ever in Super Mario Run, I’m sure a lot of us were more than willing to make the leap with him. While the game may have the look and feel of a proper Mario, however, there are enough questionable decisions here to have made this one of my least-favorite trips to the Mushroom Kingdom.

Like the start to almost every Mario adventure, Princess Peach invites Mario over to her castle, and Mario arrives just in time to see Bowser kidnap his beloved. Again. This time, Bowser also proceeds to lay waste to the entire Mushroom Kingdom, reducing it to rubble and scattering the Toad population to the winds before he escapes to his fortress.

The bulk of Super Mario Run is comprised of 24 stages across six worlds in the game’s Tour mode. The first three stages are free to everyone who downloads the game, which I appreciate because it gives you a pretty solid taste of the game before you decide if it’s something you want to drop $9.99 for—a steep price to pay when talking about mobile games usually.

As the name would suggest, the game is an endless runner—Mario never stops moving normally, and all you have to do as the player is tap the screen to make him jump. There are special blocks carefully placed in the game that will pause everything, but if Mario misses them, he just keeps running and jumping at your command. The only other time he’s not sprinting to the right is in certain Ghost Houses and Boom Boom battles, where a wall jump will start Mario heading in the other direction.

MariovsBowser1160

Despite Mario’s legs always churning like a locomotive, a lot of the classic platforming challenge we’ve come to love from the series remains, and never being able to stop actually adds a new layer of difficulty to the gameplay. Of course—as Super Mario Run has more of a casual flair—there are no lives to lose or no real consequences for failure (unlike Mario’s console outings). Still, there is challenge here, since you need to beat a stage in order to advance. Timing your jumps on or over enemies becomes critical as moving platforms and other obstacles are added to each subsequent stage. And, in order to collect the three sets of five special coins (pink, purple, and black) that are scattered in each stage, you’ll need to use every trick the game gives you to grab them successfully. Since only one set of coins appears at a time, if you’re obsessed with collectibles, you know you’ll have to play through each stage at least three times to nab them all.

If collectibles aren’t your thing, then one downside to the full game of Super Mario Run is that even with the challenge steadily ramping up, it shouldn’t take you more than two or three hours to knock out all 24 stages. Drabbing all those aforementioned collectible coins does change the stages slightly (platforms and enemies move to make the new coins challenging to reach), but if you’re not a collectible fiend, you’re likely to end up disappointed at those coins being the driving force behind the main game’s replayability.

There are two other modes that do try to keep you coming back outside of the Tour mode, with the first being Toad Rally. In order to try to lure the scattered Toads back to the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario can spend a Toad Ticket—easily earned via a daily bonus and completing stages—to take on the ghost of another player in a particular stage. If Mario can outperform the ghost by collecting more coins, defeating more enemies, and just generally progressing farther than the ghost in the time given, then Mario will lure Toads back with his impressive feats and bolster the population of the player’s particular Mushroom Kingdom. If Mario loses, some Toads may leave your Kingdom, so there is a risk involved—but luring back more than you’ve lost helps level up your game, potentially leading to expansion.

Why would you want to expand it, you ask? Well, Mario can also spend collected coins to help rebuild the Mushroom Kingdom in Build mode, where you’ll use Toad Houses, statues, hills, flower fields, and other items to help bring the Kingdom back to its former glory. Build enough structures, and have enough Toads, and you can expand the Mushroom Kingdom via Rainbow Bridges. You can also unlock new characters this way, such as Luigi or Yoshi, and each handles a bit differently than Mario in the main game. If world building is something that appeals to you, Toad Rally and Build mode work together to offer an interesting alternative to just replaying all the levels again and again.

MarioRunMushroomKingdom1160

Personally, though, I didn’t find this to be enough to make me want to keep coming back to Super Mario Run. World building really isn’t what draws me into a Mario game. I admit I could see myself grinding for all the collectible coins to get more playtime out of each stage, but Super Mario Run has some technical shortcomings that really came to be fatal flaws which would keep me from doing this.

The first is something that I’ve been noticing with more and more mobile games lately, and that’s the fact that they have trouble performing on older mobile devices. I originally started playing the game on my iPad 2, and the game would lag terribly and crash after every few stages. I talked with some friends who had also tried it on older gear, and they had the same issues. When I switched to my iPhone 6, however, everything changed for the better. The lag and crashing issues dissipated, but let this serve as a warning to anyone without a more recent phone or tablet to play on.

The other technical issue is absolutely unforgivable in my book, and really soured my opinion of this game: the fact that it requires you to always be online. I think Nintendo has gotten a lot of their priorities confused lately; Super Mario Maker for the 3DS doesn’t let you go online to share stages you’ve created, and then you’ve got Super Mario Run, a mobile game, requiring you to always be online. I even put my phone in airplane mode to double check, and sure enough, you can’t even get past the title screen if you’re offline—an error message just keeps popping up, even if you paid for the entire game and not just the three demo stages.

I understand that you need the online aspects for the Toad Rally mode and the ghosts present there, but the fact you can’t play the main game offline is puzzling at the very least. With the holidays coming up, I thought Super Mario Run was going to be releasing at the perfect time considering all the long plane flights and car trips I’ve got coming up, and I’m sure I’m not the only one traveling over the next couple of weeks. The fact that I can’t play the game in a car, subway, or bus if I’m using a device without cell service, or on a plane at all—places where people are most apt to want to play mobile games—feels like Nintendo shooting Mario in his foot. This is one of the worst examples I can find of always-online gameplay, and it really hampers Super Mario Run and the potential enjoyment of it tremendously.

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Super Mario Run has a solid core as a mobile game. The endless runner style is nothing we haven’t seen before, but adding Mario’s classic platforming challenge created an extra degree of difficulty we don’t always get with the genre. Unfortunately, this was the brightest spot for this game. Even with all 24 stages, the main game is short, and relies heavily on collectibles and side options like rebuilding the Mushroom Kingdom to keep you coming back for more. Couple this with the fact that it needs to always be online to even be playable, and I think Nintendo really misses the point of what mobile games are supposed to be. Super Mario Run isn’t the worst mobile offering I’ve seen, but it could—and should—have been so much better.

Publisher: Nintendo • Developer: Nintendo EPD/DeNA • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 12.15.16
6.0
Super Mario Run does a nice job of capturing the feel of a classic Mario game. The fact that it needs to always be online in order to play deters me from grinding through its collectible driven-gameplay, however, since it limits when and where I can actually play the game—defeating one of the primary purposes of playing a mobile game in the first place.
The Good Challenging platforming that will instantly remind you of other Mario games from over the years.
The Bad The always-online aspect is infuriating how much it can hinder when and where you play.
The Ugly All the times I wanted to say, “that’s what she said” whenever someone mentioned you can play with it with just one hand.
Super Mario Run is available on iOS platforms and coming later to Android. Primary version reviewed was for iPhone 6. Review code was provided by Nintendo for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

Slip slidin’ away

When it comes to arcade-style racing games, few have proven as everlasting as Ridge Racer. Over three decades of existence, the series has permeated nearly every gaming platform imaginable, including mobile. With the franchise returning to a casual platform for the first time since 2010, however, Namco Bandai knew they’d need a lot more than brand recognition to overcome the stigma usually associated with app-based racers.

Ridge Racer Slipstream tries to overcome this by doing its best to deliver everything we’ve come to expect from the series—simply pared down in order to fit phone and tablet parameters. From the second the game starts and franchise mascot Reiko Nagase’s introduction video plays, Slipstream looks and sounds like so many other Ridge Racer games before it, even if it looks like a slightly older game in the series due to the technical limitations.

Slipstream also features a lot of typical arcade-racer motifs, such as made-up cars that require drifting to fill up a nitro bar that can help you speed through the game’s fictional tracks. The titular “Slipstream” feature adds some semblance of strategy: You can gain speed by drafting behind cars, and a special symbol on the HUD appears to let you know just how well you’re staying on your opponent’s tail. In the end, though, it’s all about getting first place after three laps in order to advance through the various tournaments in Career mode.

The game offers a ton of options, not only in how you customize your cars’ look and performance, but in how you handle them as well. Four different control schemes are available—two with the touchscreen, and two by tilting your device. I found using the iPad itself and tilting it all over the place reminded me of the good old days in the arcade when I’d sit in a padded chair in a pod and grab an actual steering wheel. I just wish I’d had a stand I could’ve rested the iPad on, since I got tired of holding it up after a while and had to change the control scheme. I found all the options responsive and accurate when it came to how I wanted my car to handle, though, so it’s all a matter of personal preference, really.

Unfortunately, while Slipstream may offer a lot of options to drive with, there’s not a lot here for you to actually drive. Only a dozen cars and 10 tracks (20 if you count mirror options) are available through the single-player mode’s 108 races. And while the game’s $2.99 price tag doesn’t warrant the numbers you’d get from true console or arcade racers, it’s a bit too measly a number to leave me satisfied.

Besides cars and tracks, there’s also not much to the game beyond single-player. Sure, you can check out time trials and use social features to share with your friends and let them know how you’re doing, but that’s it. The lack of a true versus mode really puts a crimp on the replayabilty.

The worst part about the game, though, is the microtransactions. To be fair, Namco Bandai has designed Slipstream so that players can beat the entire game without spending a single cent more than the initial download price, which is uncommon in racing apps. It just becomes a bit of a chore after only a few races, since the game encourages players to spend money to unlock more cars, more parts, more tracks, or consumables like nitro boosts to help win races. And there is, of course, a two-currency system that locks several of the better cars behind the “premium” (harder to acquire) option. I appreciate the fact that the microtransactions aren’t necessary, but Slipstream sure does try to make it tempting.

Ridge Racer Slipstream is probably one of the better racing apps out there, but that’s not necessarily saying much. The actual act of racing is fun, and the control options are a nice touch—almost everyone should find one they’re comfortable with. The game also pays homage to previous Ridge Racers by maintaining the series’ look and feel. But, like so many other mobile racers, microtransactions can muddle the fun. And with so few car, track, and mode options, it’s easy to tire of the experience quickly. If you’re just looking for something to kill a few minutes a day and don’t mind the grind, though, Ridge Racer Slipstream is a decent value for its purchase price.

Developer: Namco Bandai • Publisher: Namco Bandai • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 12.19.13
7.0
This app stays true to Ridge Racer’s arcade roots, but the lack of content coupled with the grind of unlocking everything—which is only conveniently alleviated by microtransacations—is a major speed bump in this otherwise smooth ride.
The Good Multiple control schemes appeal to wide range of players.
The Bad Grinding through races to avoid microtransactions. No versus modes.
The Ugly Definitely not race queen Reiko Nagase. Nice seeing you again foxy lady.
Ridge Racer Slipstream is available on iOS and coming later to Android devices. Primary version reviewed was for iOS devices (iPad 2).

Everyone loves a fiesta!

I admit that I’m a bit new to the Rayman series, only having played the most recent ones. But once the limbless wonder works his magic on you, it’s hard not to develop an affinity for Michel Ancel’s iconic character. So, when the opportunity arose to take Rayman from the controller to a touchscreen, I was curious.

Rayman Fiesta Run is the follow up to last year’s Rayman Jungle Run and continues in that game’s footsteps, replacing the precision platforming we’ve come to know on consoles with an endless-run dynamic. At first, this worried me greatly, given how tightly Rayman controls on consoles—it’s one of the major reasons I’ve gotten so addicted to his games. After several hours tapping furiously at my iPad, however, I can tell you that the endless-run motif isn’t necessarily better or worse; it’s simply a different way to enjoy Rayman and his world.

In order to get used to this new mechanic, the game strips Rayman of many of his basic moves at the start—all you can do is tap to jump, wall jump, and run. This helps you get into the rhythm you need if you’re going to collect all 100 lums and four Teensies per level. Multiple paths and familiar obstacles to overcome lend even more replayability since the only way to truly beat the game is to collect everything in each level and its twisted “Invaded” counterpart.

Knowing when to tap—and when not to—might sound simple enough, but it’s harder to master than it seems, so it’s great that the game takes it easy early on. But when Rayman starts getting abilities back—like gliding and punching—the difficulty ramps up fast. You must master performing each move in conjunction with multiple taps to ensure that Rayman sails through the world smoothly and collects everything along the way.

Fiesta Run also does a great job of utilizing the phenomenal art and music for which the series is known. Even though the areas are all new, they’ll be familiar enough that fans will appreciate listening to their favorite level music set against recognizable backdrops.

I’m afraid that Fiesta Run isn’t all one big party, though. The game is surprisingly short, even with multiple playthroughs of each level. Seventy-two levels sounds like a lot—and if this were a console Rayman game, it would be—but here you can get through the entire game in only a few hours.

The boss levels also disappoint. Bosses you have to run from are huge and beautifully designed, but they’re never really a threat, since you just keep running. The level layout isn’t really anything different compared to what you’ve played up to that point, either, so the entire concept of a “boss” area is really lost after the level’s brief opening cinematic.

I’m also a bit surprised that the game doesn’t tie back into the console versions. It’s not really a negative, but with so many companies releasing apps with or around a recent release that can unlock costumes or extra items or a minigame when you link them, I’m just surprised I can’t transfer lums from Fiesta Run to Rayman Legends or earn extra trophies or something along those lines. I could use those additional trophies and lums, too, because it’s not easy trying to get to the 11th level of awesomeness or unlock every character in Legends!

Sometimes, though, simple is the way to go—and Rayman Fiesta Run proves that. Its user-friendly control scheme should provide nothing but fun for fans of the franchise, and even if you’re not a huge Rayman devotee, the game’s cheap price tag of $2.99 makes it a worthwhile download if you’re a completionist with a few hours to kill.

Developer: Ubisoft Casablanca • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 11.7.13
8.0
Simple and to the point, Rayman Fiesta Run follows proudly in its predecessors’ footsteps. The endless-run dynamic is a nice change of pace for fans of the franchise—I just wish the party could’ve lasted longer.
The Good Enough challenge and collectibles to compare favorably to its console brethren.
The Bad Short enough to be blown through in only a few hours.
The Ugly Just missing that last lum before crossing the finish line.
Rayman Fiesta Run is available on Google Play, Amazon App Store, and iOS devices. Primary version reviewed was for iOS devices, specifically using an iPad 2.

More convenient than Bat-Shark Repellent

Much of the current Batman buzz may surround the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins console game, but at New York Comic Con 2013, Warner Bros. wanted to make it clear that they haven’t forgotten about the iOS and Android platforms, either. The mobile incarnation was unveiled at the show—it’s scheduled to be available sometime around its console brethren’s October 25th release date—and I was able to get some solid hands-on time with this free-to-play Bat-brawler.

The mobile version’s being developed by NetherRealm Studios—the folks behind Injustice: Gods Among Us—and fans will quickly see parallels between that game’s mobile tie-in and this experience. Much of the core gameplay still revolves around tapping on your enemies to chain together punches and kicks to take them down in succession, and after dispatching a variety of thugs, you’ll earn a chance to beat down one of the eight assassins after the huge bounty on Batman’s head. The Caped Crusader has a stamina meter, however, and he can only pick so many fights in a row before he needs a break to recharge his batteries.

The concept may sound simple enough, but there’s a far deeper experience here than you might expect if you were to give the game a cursory glance. Sure, you won’t get the dialogue or story that you’d get from a Batman console game, but there’s more than enough action to give Bat-fans their fix on the bus or a plane before getting home to their consoles to continue their proper pursuit of Black Mask.

The overall layout breaks up Gotham City into four sections, and Batman must methodically work his way through them all to clean up the streets. While the game will launch with only four of the eight assassins, Warner Bros. promises that— much like the Injustice mobile tie-in—there’ll be plenty of continued support down the line.

The game also includes an RPG-like element; Batman can level up by earning experience after every battle or by using the in-game currency he earns (which can also be purchased for a fee in the game’s store) to unlock a variety of special moves and new costumes that provide natural buffs. Batsuits like the one worn on Earth-Two will provide more health, while the Batman Beyond suit can provide a nice all-around boost.

The combat’s also deeper in that Batman can pull off six or seven moves in a row—unlike the three or four that players were limited to in Injustice. Plus, the variety of special moves is far larger. You can only bring four moves at a time into battle, though, so you’ll have to switch some in and out on the customization screen as you unlock more.

You can also bring medkits to heal yourself—or maybe the Shock Gauntlets, which then switches the game to a first-person perspective as you try to pound your foe’s face into paste. Or there’s always my personal favorite: throwing dual Batarangs for huge damage and then calling in a swarm of bats to slow the enemy down.

But Batman’s combat isn’t the only element to see an overhaul in this mobile version. His would-be assassins also have special maneuvers that require players to master mini-games in order to block or counter opponents’ signature moves. When I fought Deadshot, for example, I had to quickly tap all the bullets he was firing at me in order to dodge them, Matrix-style.

The user interface is also much clearer now, with all your special moves easily clickable down on the bottom of the screen—and if you wish to use your second hand, a block button is available for faster reactions. Of course, if you find the HUD bothersome or think it clutters up the screen, there’s an option now to turn it off altogether.

Clearly, this isn’t the same experience that you’d get on a console. But if you’re on the go and feel like letting out some pent-up aggression on Bane or Copperhead, this looks to be shaping up as a quality mobile tie-in that’ll be great for killing a little time during your commute.

Gotta get back in time

When you consider the phenomenon that the first Plants vs. Zombies became—being ported countless times to every system available and inspiring every piece of merchandise imaginable—it’s no wonder that the folks at PopCap would, at some point, get around to making a sequel. Instead of resting on their laurels and riding the massive wave of success generated by the first game to an easy payday, however, Plants vs. Zombies 2 erects a wondrous monument on the foundation of its predecessor that has the potential to consume every free second you have—if you let it.

Building a bit on the story of the first game, PvZ 2 sees your neighbor, good ol’ Crazy Dave, construct a talking time machine out of his car. After eating the most delicious taco ever assembled, Dave gets the idea of using his time machine to travel several minutes back in time to consume this hallowed taco once more. Being in the vicinity of the car, you’re pulled back with Dave, but instead of several minutes, you’re sent back several thousand years. Now, you must battle zombie hordes with the help of Dave and his sentient automobile, traveling through time as you try to get back home.

The biggest change that most players will notice is that, unlike its predecessor, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is free-to-play (not to mention starting out as an exclusive on iOS devices). Fans needn’t worry about free-to-play becoming pay-to-win, or about any story content being gated, though. The entire game can be played without you having to pay a dime, and only one of the new plant types is locked by a purchase. Plus, the extra good news is that PopCap has promised continual content updates to the game through this system.

Despite the switch to a free-to-play model, both the core tower-defense gameplay and cheesy humor that made Plants vs. Zombies so great return here in droves. The obvious additions are dozens of new plants, like the fire-breathing Snapdragon or kung-fu-proficient Bop Choy, and new zombies, like the sun-stealing Ra Zombie. Along with these new characters comes a bevy of powers that you can utilize at any time.

Some of these powers come from supercharged plant food that you acquire by defeating special green-tinted zombies. By utilizing it at the right time, you can turn the tide of any battle, and each plant has its own appropriate special attacks. Old standbys like Pea Pods will shoot a continuous stream of pellets, perfect for wearing down shielded zombies, while Bop Choy will deliver furious roundhouse kicks and swinging haymakers that allow it to attack not only directly in front of it, but in adjacent lanes as well.

Utilizing the touchscreen feature of the iOS devices, PvZ 2 can also give the player special powers that you can purchase either with in-game currency earned by playing well, or by dropping some real-world cash via the in-game store. These powers can serve as a Hail Mary for some more troublesome maps. For a few seconds, one power grants you the ability to electrocute any zombie onscreen and turn them to ash. Another allows you to pinch zombie heads off their bodies, instantly killing them. And the final power allows you to flick zombies off the screen and into an unknown abyss from whence they will never return. When you combine the new plant food feature with these powers, you have countless new strategies that can potentially open up.

Outside of the action on each main level, there are plenty of side activities as well, providing some much-appreciated gameplay variety in the form of minigames and challenge maps. Whether it’s using only a certain number of total plants in the match or starting with plants already on the field that you can’t let die, the challenge maps add a ton of replayability.

There is, however, a fine line between replayability and grinding. The one negative in PvZ 2 is that in order to advance from ancient Egypt to the pirate world and finally to the Wild West, you need to collect a certain number of stars—and these stars usually will require you to do the same story levels over and over again, collecting them one at a time. Although it’s enjoyable at first, after a while, it feels needless to constantly backtrack and retread ground, like some infuriating JRPG.

Putting that aside, though, there’s no way I can’t recommend Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time if you have an iOS device. It doesn’t cost you a single cent to play, it maintains the same addictive strategy elements of the first game, and it adds a ton of new gameplay variety. If the first Plants vs. Zombies was a sensation, Plants vs. Zombies 2 may turn the franchise into a way of life.

Developer: PopCap Games • Publisher: Electronic Arts • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 08.15.2013
9.0

PopCap maintains the addictive tower-defense gameplay and cheesy humor that made the first Plants vs. Zombies such a phenomenon, while adding a plethora of new features that ensure this game will consume every free second you have—if you let it.

The Good A near-unbelievable amount of enjoyable additions.
The Bad Can become a bit of a grind when forced to replay a lot of levels before advancing to the next world.
The Ugly Fire-breathing flowers and highly combustible zombie flesh.
Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time is currently an iOS exclusive.